By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
MasterxMaster is a game that held a Closed Alpha event this weekend; during it, players could go through a fair amount of the story as far as I had seen and play against each other or against bots in the Arena. The game has two modes, and in both of them you pick two characters, or “Masters” – tagging between them as needed. It’s really got something for everyone who is into MOBA or Arena style games. You can play the story in a variety of difficulties, solo or in a group of three, or enter the Arena to play against other players on a few maps. The matches last five minutes and the most points at the end wins. How do you get points? By killing the other people, of course! There is a literal ton of things going on here, and I’ll try to avoid just turning it into a game review, since the game’s obviously not ready yet. The big problem was that there were simply too many people! They had to shut down servers more than once to do maintenance and either make more servers or increase the load of them. The first day I had lots of issues with people leaving or disconnecting, getting absolutely nothing done.
Beyond that, it’s a ton of fun. The character pool during the Alpha was a lot bigger than I expected it would be. I played a bunch of them, and found some pretty good combos. It was also nice to see that NCSoft represented a lot of their other brands, like Aion and Blade & Soul with Masters you could control. How to get new characters? You either unlock them with challenges/requirements, or you spend money! Of course you can spend money! Why not? It’s a f2p after all, so they have to get paid somehow. And some of those characters you don’t start with are REALLY strong. At first I was kind of worried it might be unbalanced, but they do use a Rock – Paper – Scissors style, with three energy styles. Ardent [Red], Helix [Green], and Kinetic [Blue]. Simplistic, but easy to understand for anyone. You could use two characters with the same type, but why would you? One will always have a counter, so using two types makes your chances a lot better. I also feel like I should say this while we’re on the subject of characters: FAN. SERVICE. Boobs and Muscles everywhere. There are sinister, elemental/demonic style characters, large breasts, muscle-bound gun-toting dudebros, loli-style characters. Something for everyone!
Okay, let’s talk Matches. There are three right now that I’m aware of. You can play through the story mode with three difficulties and a variety of rewards for success. This is one of my favorites, because I love a good story mode. It’s an action game combined with PVP/MOBA. You move with WASD, main weapon is left click, utility/defense/movement is right click. Then you have Q and E, followed by an Ultimate R. Your Ultimate is shared between characters, so you can’t just swap and do another one immediately. You have that story mode, which is fun, then you have the 3v3 arena. As I said above, you fight for five minutes, most kills wins.
Then there’s the MOBA mode… because MOBAs are fun! Right? Anyone? It’s called Titan Ruins, and is a three lane five vs. five MOBA style game. This is a game that requires a lot more strategy than most PVP/Arena style games. I do wonder though, with so many different modes that they will have a hard time keeping it balanced, fair and up to date. I also worry that they might not release several maps to keep it interesting since there are quite a few modes going on. We’ll just have to see – I imagine player feedback will play a big part here for future development focuses. The alpha feels like a shotgun approach to see what sticks and what gets ignored.
You have two characters that can complete each other in a ton of ways, and that means you have to consider what your opponents might do! When the character select happens you also pick from a pair of Q and E abilities, so you can use whichever ones suit your needs. Or. . . choose to create a wombo combo! For example, one master who has a bunch of really cool CC abilities, and tag out immediately to a burst character to explode that player into tiny pieces. Mmm. Combos. However you can’t swap back immediately; there’s a timer when you tag adding a bit of weight to when and where you use the option. It’s a great mechanic though. You can use it mid combat to not die, and slowly heal the other one while you use your healthier character to hold off enemies/fight. Have a friend in game that has a character you don’t, but want to try as their main Master? Bring them as a Mercenary, try for yourself!
There’s also upgrades! Of course! You can upgrade your skills in the “Masters” screen, where all the characters are. These upgrades have NO effect on PVP, and are only for the story mode missions. You can also use this to apply a series of items that are basically Runes. You unlock them in a few different ways, and they can improve agility, damage, defense, etc. You can switch them when not in combat, so you can build your extra stats however you like. It doesn’t look like there’s a leveling system for your account, so you can just set things up however you like without having to wait till level 30, like in some MOBA games. I’m so glad you can’t use the improved skills in PVP though as you can use Gold to buy them. Basically cash shoppers and hardcore grinders would rule the arena if that were the case. There are also skins, which cost real currency. They don’t affect the game, but they really are quite pretty. All of this stuff will be included in the tutorial, which is very long, kind of funny, and teaches you absolutely everything you need to know to start the game, as well as giving you rewards for doing it. As far as I know it’s required, but you may as well do it even if it weren’t.
TO HYPE OR NOT TO HYPE: World Heavyweight Tag-Team Champion Hype
There’s so much going on here that I don’t really have the room to talk about it all. And some of it might change, since it’s an Alpha, so I’m not going to go into every cool mechanic. From customization, to wild and fun characters, stuff to unlock, challenges and titles to gain! Titles can give stat boosts too, so that’s one more reason to explore every nook and cranny the game has to offer. You should definitely look out for keys though so you can do so yourself! I’m grateful that it’s not just a MOBA and has a variety of things for you to do to always be entertained, to unlock more characters and explore this world they’ve created. They’ve shown us a nice big chunk of the game, and there’s so much more to come. Stay tuned to MMOHuts and OnRPG for the latest developments on MasterxMaster by NCSoft!